Tag Archives: Swamystery

There is no such thing called useless – including us!

23 Dec

There’s no such thing called useless – including us! ☝️
Confused or Curious..! 🤔🥴🧐

Read on… 👇

New Work Desk from old scrap wood!

There’s no such thing called useless – including us!


Circular Saw – check
Jigsaw – check
Random Orbital Sander – check
Angle Grinder – check
Impact Drill / Driver – check
Chisels – check
Hand saw – check
Rasp – check
Clamps – check
Ratchet Screwdriver – check
Hammer – check
Mallet – check
Countersink Drill Bit – check
Screws – check
Wood Glue (Fevicol) – check
Scrap Wood (salvaged from old furniture) – check
Someone to use all the above tools (& wood) – check
Something to craft/create with all the above… Here you go…


This new ‘work desk’, meant for use while seated on the floor (or some other wide, flat surface) was made entirely with scrap wood sourced from old (unused but not necessarily defunct or useless) furniture such as shelf, chair, etc. It isn’t perfect, but is very sturdy and quite functional. It’s my rookie effort on crafting useful things from whatever wooden product deemed useless or impractical or not in sync with the present home interior. Naturally, it can be made better – in all aspects, provided one has time and sustained interest. And ‘jigs’ (more on that later). Time is aplenty for a retiree like yours truly (அட, பொறாமைப்படாதீங்க பாஸு) and interest just needs to be sustained over a period of time (அதான் ரொம்ப கஷ்டம், apparently).


So, wait for a few more weeks please, as Swamy sharpens his woodworking skill a bit, so that the turnaround time for crafting beautiful + useful thingamajigs with wood can be reduced. It’s only a matter of time folks (hopefully )… கைவசம் இன்னொரு self-learned (primarily thanks to hundreds of YouTube videos by many skilled woodworking professionals & tools from Amazon & friendly neighbourhood hardware shop) தொழில் இருக்கு இப்போ… காசுக்காக செய்யலைன்னாலும் (that’s also required – necessary to cover the cost of time & material, though profit isn’t the motive here) useக்காக செய்யலாமே (everything in existence is useful, if only we learn/know how to use them effectively)… Stay Tuned…


என்ன, புத்தாண்டுல உங்களுக்கும் இந்த மாதிரி ஏதாவது மரச்சாமான் / மரத்தால் செய்த கைவினைப்பொருள் – ஏற்கனவே இருக்கும் பழைய மரம்/பிளைவுட் போன்றவற்றை வைத்தே கூட – சகாய விலைல வேணும் போல இருக்கா? கண்டிப்பா வெச்சு செஞ்சுரலாம்ணே/க்கா (அட, மரத்தை வெச்சுத்தாங்க… நீங்க வேற எதையாவது ‘வெச்சு’ன்னு கற்பனை பண்ணி பயந்து போயிடாதீங்க). நீங்க என்ன சொல்றீங்க!


~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Chadwick Boseman – the North Star of the star-studded MCU!

30 Aug

Chadwick Boseman – the North Star of the star-studded MCU! 

The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe – for diehard தமிழ்ப்பட fans) is full of superheroes, each seemingly made exactly for their respective superhero characters. But pretty much all of them are, well, ummm… white. It’s not their fault, since the blockbuster movies are all based on comic books and pretty much all the comics had white superheroes, back in the day, with very few, rare exceptions. 


That’s why the casting of Black Panther was equally tricky and critical for Marvel (now owned by Disney), because T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, aka Black Panther, is the most popular non-white superhero in Marvel Comics and the actor who dons that role must make that titular character stand out, amidst the long lineup of already established – predominantly white – superheroes, who have tasted box office success, and expanded the MCU at a rapid pace. 


Enter Chadwick Boseman, who first made a brief appearance as Black Panther in Captain America : Civil War. Then came the Black Panther movie itself, raking in 1.3 billion dollars globally (a historic feat for a Superhero movie, helmed by any non-white actor, ever), receiving the Best Picture Oscar nomination (a historical first for a Superhero movie, period.) and rocketing Chadwick Boseman straight to A-List super stardom in Hollywood. He played the role he seems to have born to play, twice more in the Avengers : Infinity War & Avengers – End Game. The rest, as clichéd it may sound, is history.


Boseman may be new to the superhero genre, but has played real-life heroes on screen before, from sportsperson to musician to activist, and has earned critical acclaim. As a person, he seemed to have been as regal and kind as the fictional Wakandan King, ever expanding his admirer army, even among fellow celebrities. He was naturally an inspiring role model for young African Americans everywhere, and especially in the USA, where the community is seething in righteous anger, against the violence and suppression unleashed against them, apparently with overt political blessing from the very top of the food chain this time around, time and time again, pushing them to look towards heroes to inspire their rightful fight. Chadwick Boseman was that hero, both on screen and off it. He was all set to reprise his tailor made superhero role Black Panther, in the sequel to the blockbuster, planned for release in 2022. But that wasn’t to be… 


Chadwick Boseman, immensely talented and rightfully feted for achieving phenomenal success in Hollywood, died of colon cancer this week. He was just 43. He had a bunch of summits left to ascend, post the ones he has scaled already. And he had the guile, skill, confidence and delirious fan following to do that, within a short span of time. But the one thing he didn’t have was time itself. 


I’ve recently watched his non-superhero movie 21 Bridges, which he co-produced and also starred in. That movie showed that he was perhaps destined to take over the mantle of powerhouse performances in blockbuster movies from the likes of Denzel Washington. And Hollywood certainly needed more like him, to stay inclusive and relevant in the changing times, considering the Chinese were already making impressive blockbusters on their own, with their own stars as well.


Some sudden deaths, even if they happen to people unrelated to us, in faraway places, will bring tears involuntarily flowing. Boseman’s death did that. Not many in Hollywood even knew about his cancer diagnosis four years ago and the ongoing treatment. So even industry insiders are as shocked as the millions of fans who adored and idolised him. The condolence messages on social media show the extent of impact – all overwhelmingly positive – he has created in such a short time, as a spectacular star, and as a wonderful human being. But as they say, ‘Man proposes… God disposes..!’


Some stars are destined to burn bright and vanish early, yet leave an indelible mark on the sky, that’ll shine forever. Chadwick Boseman is one such rare star. Quite possibly the North Star of the glamorous world – predominantly white, needless to say – of blockbuster cinema. In a time when its homeland desperately needs the light of inspiration and power of leadership to turn away from the dark path it has been forced into in the past few years, towards the days of glory again. With Boseman gone so suddenly, so soon, there’ll be a void for sometime, before another such star shines so brightly. The wait can be agonising for those who looked up to him for inspiration and motivation. But, his glow as an immensely talented actor, supremely confident star and certainly gifted human will remain for long, and will continue to be cherished by many. 


Rest in peace, with pride O’ King. Wakanda Forever! May Grace offer solace to the bereaved family, friends and fans.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamusings – Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram – Original vs Popular!

25 Aug

Swamusings – Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram – Original vs Popular!

A tweet on @PrakashSwamy twitter timeline was intriguing. It was about how the popular ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram’ bhajan isn’t really the original song. Really… 🤔 Whoa!🙄

My head spins when I think about who made this song – the well-known, apparently non-original version – popular… None other than the ‘father of the nation’ Bapuji himself! 🥴 வாழ்க்கையில் எதையும், யாரையும் அப்படியே நம்பாமல் இருத்தலே உத்தமம்! 🤦🏻♂️😷🤘

The tweet that triggered this post and the investigation leading to it…

The ‘real’ bhajan, also known as ‘Ram Dhun’ is attributed to Shri Lakshmanacharya and is said to have been ‘derived’ from his book ‘Shri Nama Ramayanam.’ So I promptly went to BiG, aka Googleji and started the investigation – curious only, not criminal. Surprisingly, when reading or listening to the original, the reference to the bhajan itself is hard to find, or rather non-existent! 🥴

The ‘Nama Ramayanam’ itself is a very short book of 12 pages & is available on Amazon (surprisingly, not in Archive.org, though an audio version is available there 🙄). I’ll probably check that out as well (& I did – details further down in this post itself). 🤘

Three – yes, that’s 3 – versions of ‘Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram’, lyrics with meaning

About ‘Nama Ramayanam,’ which is said to be the origin of the ‘Ram Dhun’ bhajan

Listen to ‘Nama Ramayanam’ bhajan

… the intrigue continues… for now! 😂🙏

9865078a53a315d3b04e9153ea9adef3--jai-hanuman-indian-gods

Hmmm… Downloaded the ‘Nama Ramayanam’ book by Shri Lakshmanacharya (thanks to Kindle unlimited 🤪) and checked quickly 🧐

‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Rama… Pathitha Paavana Sita Rama…’ itself isn’t found in any of the kaandas! 🥴🤷🏻♂️😷

Now the investigation is really stuck. It’s time someone more knowledgeable and more conversant with Sanskrit/Hindi took over this investigation and reveal the Truth, because the ‘Nation wants to know!’ Unlike a certain actor’s untimely demise, the enquiry about which has been taken over by CBI due to ‘popular request,’ a quiet scholar – of the sanatana dharmic kind, of course – would do for this one! 

In tamil there’s a famous saying…

கண்ணால் காண்பதும் பொய்… காதால் கேட்பதும் பொய்… தீர விசாரிப்பதே மெய்..! 

‘kannaal kaanbadhum poi… kaadhaal ketpadhum poi… theera visaarippadhe mei..!’

Translation:

Whatever is seen, with eyes, isn’t true…

Whatever is heard, with ears, isn’t true…

Whatever is found through elaborate / detailed (self) enquiry is the Truth!

Who really wrote ‘Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram..?’

Was it really based on ‘Sri Nama Ramayanam..?’

If so, then Why doesn’t the original have neither ‘Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram’ nor ‘Pathita Paavana Sita Ram’ in it, anywhere..?’

Is ‘Ram Dhun’ written by someone, at the behest of Gandhiji, and religiously sung in all his meetings, in order to emphasise religious harmony? If that’s the intent, that obviously didn’t seem to have yielded the desired results – even during Bapu’s days, though the song itself has become quite popular and is instantly associated with the Mahatma, by the general public. The present digital generation, as ever, is most likely unaware of all this and may not even have heard this bhajan, unless it’s played during Independence/Republic Day assembly at their school!

Sadhguru_RamaNavami

Well, whatever may be the origin of the bhajan, the ‘Truth’ – not about the bhajan or its writer, but about the Creator and the vast, cosmic creation, in which we too exist in one tiny planet in some nondescript corner, along with millions of other living beings – isn’t out there, somewhere. It’s very much within ourselves. So, the exact lyrics of the bhajan itself isn’t really important. The bhava and the sense of saranagathi (surrender), towards the divine, is all that matters – whichever version of the divine Naama one renders. Whether one likes one version or dislikes another doesn’t matter to either the creator, or the vast cosmic creation!

Jai Shri Ram. 🙌🏻😌🙏

P.S.: Upon completing this brief investigative journalistic venture, I was left wondering ‘Man… Why am I not employed as an ‘investigative journalist’ by any media group…’ 🤔 May be no media talent scouts read blogs with readworthy content… who knows! 😂 

Oh right, almost forgot that I chose to be ‘Non-employed’, few years ago, when I bid farewell to 24×7 paid corporate servitude and took  early retirement – planned of course… 😷

So, this level of ‘investigation’ and sharing is more than enough… I guess! 😂🙏

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

A surprise birthday celebration & a pandemic-induced life lesson ~a Swamusings post 

9 Aug

A surprise birthday celebration & a pandemic-induced life lesson ~a Swamusings post 

Namaskaram 🙏

Yesterday was made memorable by many, which was personally a learning for me. 🤔Special Pranam 🙏 to Shri Prasannaji, who keeps pulling out such memorable surprises, relentlessly. 👌May Grace 🙌🏻 be with him to keep spreading the cheer 🌻

Humans generally expend their brief lifetime, based on perception and not reality. And, our perception of someone remains almost indelible, causing friction in relationships, which is easy to fix, yet goes unfixed for a long time, due to the fact that the hilarious species known as Homo Sapiens is also an extremely emotional species. 🥴 Perception (from the past) + Emotion (in the present) is a deadly cocktail that disrupts reality. Comprehending & appreciating reality (‘Life, the way it is’ as my Guru puts it succinctly) requires rational thinking, which in turn requires awareness, and time. Since time is a precious commodity in the ultra-competitive survival that many believe to be life, we who are always in a tearing hurry, hardly ever pause to ponder and wonder about the real life. This, in essence, is the root cause  of misery, which sadly is our own creation. 😫

Like any being on this tiny planet, the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus too has its virtues, apparently. The foremost of those being, pausing the maddening pace of our lives. When the pace of our lives slows down, we suddenly start perceiving even well known things, and people, and situations, differently. This is no different from slowing down a vehicle we drive to observe the beautiful scenery all around, which most of us rarely do.🤔

What I’ve witnessed yesterday was such a change in perception, which was my learning from the Golden Birth Anniversary (50th birthday) of my better-half (which she truly is, for it’s not easy to manage living with the aasaami known as Swamy, for 25 long years 😂). I witnessed the wholehearted participation and Joyful wishes shared by many, including family & friends, to make a day truly memorable for the wonderful being known as Mrs. Chitra Prakash, whose many virtues weren’t really understood by many in the past, despite experiencing them first-hand, which appears to have obviously changed, at least a wee bit, since people have had plenty of time in the recent past, to put things / events / people in perspective, and demonstrating the willingness to change their long-held perceptions, about things / events / people.

The online event itself (organised as a surprise to her – and even me, until the day’s dawn), the wide spread – truly global – participation, the messages – including a hand-written thoughtful note from her f-i-l, the gifts – cake (when not all bakeries are functional, yet), sweet & karam from Grand sweets along with flowers (wow!), and an elegant watch (hmmm, Jr has really grown up now), were all proof that any of us can change, over time, if we are willing to that is. And it was truly amazing to witness such a broad spectrum of willingness to let go of the past and embrace the present, from a wide range of people with unique characteristics and myriad backgrounds. 

During Mrs Chitra Prakash’s 50th Birth Anniversary celebrations @ SwamyHome

As a samsari, I know quite well how Chitra has touched many lives – not just humans, btw. I also know how much her actions on specific situations have been misunderstood by many, that helped solidify their perception & opinions about her and her family. I too have gone through this in my own existence and have held very strong opinions, based on my limited perception and comprehension of the grand cosmic dance known as Life. It took a Guru (Realised Master) to shake my strong belief foundation and let me become aware of ‘Life, the way it is,’ aka Reality. Only after such a powerful intervention did I change significantly as a person / being, a change many of you are aware of only at the surface level (long white flowing beard, padhigams, Quora Q&A, et al), but something my immediate family knows a bit deeper. 🙄 Only my Upa Guru Sohamanandaji probably knows the change far deeper than anyone else. 😇 And as a seeker… Wait a minute, this isn’t about me, so let me stop digressing… 😷

The beauty about my better-half is that she effortlessly moves on in life, as she doesn’t carry the burden of the past – including events, opinions, perceptions, etc. It’s not that she doesn’t remember them, but the amazing fact that she isn’t overly burdened by any of them. She certainly isn’t a seeker like me, which makes me wonder how she does it so effortlessly, since I’ve to spend considerable effort on Sadhana (spiritual practice) and contemplation to do the same. 

So, despite the fact that quite a few participants of yesterday’s birthday celebrations have not only held strong perception-based opinions about her, but have also expressed them in the past, she herself was simply enjoying the day and everyone’s hearty wishes, remaining strongly rooted only in the present moment. And she did that so effortlessly, without doing any rigorous Sadhana. It makes a serious seeker like me go bonkers, since I write about it all the time and yet people don’t get it. And here’s a practitioner who I’ve been living with for well over a quarter century, who doesn’t even read whatever I write, yet actually gives a live demonstration of what I write, from my own experience! 😂


I’ve not only written extensively about the pointlessness of celebrating a date or day of the past, but have even admonished people for daring to wish me on such dates & days. 🤨 Though that’s just my opinion, based on my perception of life – limited or otherwise, my family obviously has to bear the brunt of such strong opinion.😵 In general people seem really happy to celebrate anniversaries – not just theirs, but those of their acquaintances, friends, family and relatives as well. And it’s mostly harmless, except for a typically sizable hole in the wallet, for whoever is funding such celebrations.🤐

That understanding is what made me go with the flow, and be part of the 50th birth anniversary of my dear sahadharmini, aka life partner, to whatever limited extent I can. 🎉
It showed me that when people have time, they can ponder, contemplate and eventually change their strong opinions about people, places and events, since their perception too change over time. The key is to find time, first and foremost for ourselves. That’s perhaps why time is known as a great healer. And we must all be grateful for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the prolonged lockdown resulting due to it, which helped us put life in perspective, and change our perception – and opinions – of people and events, because for the first time in our lives, we had plenty of time in hand! ⏳

As someone who always felt blessed to have Shrimathi Kalyani engira Chitra as my life partner, in this lifetime, I take this opportunity to express my – our, in fact – gratitude to everyone who made the Golden Birth Anniversary of Smt Chitra memorable. She truly deserves it and Grace 🙌 ensured she received it yesterday, through all of you. 🎂😊 May Grace 🙌 be with you for a purposeful life 😌 overflowing with joy 🌼

 
Pranam 🙏

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

Broken devices, long drive  and a blast from the past!~a Swamusings post

1 Aug

Broken devices, long drive  and a blast from the past!
~a Swamusings post 樂✍

What happens when multiple devices break down at or around the same time? That too when the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown situation doesn’t seem to change, at all, in Chennai (ஏனுங்க, இந்த Unlock3 எல்லாம் நம்ம ஊருல மட்டும் 2021லதான் வரும்ங்களா!)… One is forced to step out of the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ mode and look for places where laptops, phones, etc. can be serviced.

As far as the RO water purifier and washing machine are concerned, the service personnel from both companies have finally visited our home & performed the necessary service activities and brought the devices back to life. From the previous Swamusings post, you may know that Mrs. Swamy’s laptop power adapter breathed its last a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, the service centers and spare parts sellers have not yet opened the shutters and Amazon still refuses to deliver non-essentials (like power adapters – ummm, isn’t that actually an ‘essential’ item, in the digital era’s predominantly online existence). Now, Jr’s laptop (a critical device) has gone comatose and cellphone too is acting up (Mrs’ cellphone was replaced with a new one only recently). The only person whose devices are all still fully functional in the household is apparently just Swamy!

So, Swamy ended up doing a reasonably long drive yesterday, with Jr in tow, for gadget service / replacement Purpose. The drive itself was a reasonably smooth affair, especially for Chennai that’s notorious for its workday traffic snarls, since traffic density wasn’t like a sumo wrestler, but more like a recovering Covid-19 patient. The laptop sales/service centre Aski Computers at Ashok Nagar is a well-known outlet. It was a busy place, unsurprisingly considering both employees of many kinds and students of all kinds are in dire need of laptops – new & used – and accessories (webcam being a top need) and of course service. This popular computer outlet has implemented all COVID-19 related safety features and also implements them diligently. That’s really good for everyone.

Having gone that far, we’ve inevitably ventured out to a few other outlets nearby. Pretty much all branded stores have implemented the COVID-19 related business requirements laid down by the government and try to follow them, within their premises. Reliance Digital, Shri Gupta Bhavan aka Loiee, Sri Krishna Sweets… Foot operated or manual hand sanitiser at the entrance, temperature check, restrictions on entry of number of people, staff with face masks were in place in all the stores. At Loiee, they’ve even implemented the social distancing between the counters and the shoppers. And air-conditioning has been replaced by ceiling or pedestal fans everywhere. So, in a way, it’s quite safe to shop at popular brand outlets. But the number of customers seems limited, which is reflected in the desolate faces of the in-store personnel, who forcibly plaster a wry smile on their faces, whenever a new customer steps in. As far as ‘social distancing’ norms being followed by such customers, it’s better for every individual to remain vigilant and cautious, as once inside the shop, there’s no stopping a curious – and in many cases, somewhat anxious as well – customer from criss-crossing the entire shop floor(s)!

Mr & Mrs Swamy before a drive, in pre-Covid times…

Ashok Pillar area has a very special place in Mr. & Mrs. Swamy’s hearts, since Jr. was born there. His திருஅவதாரத் தலம் was the ‘Orthopaedics & Specialities Hospital’ located at the pillar junction, which used to have a ‘Saravanas’ fast food outlet (part of the Hotel Saravana Bhavan restaurant chain) near the entrance. In fact, Mrs. Swamy quite enjoyed the brief hospitalisation there for the delivery, since three times a day she got delectable HSB food served in her ward itself. The chief doctor there was a popular person & a vivacious personality as well, resembling SPB in size. However, the ObGyn for pregnancy & delivery was a senior Dr. Saraswathi and Paediatrician was Dr. Jaishankar. Now the hospital is gone and the entire place is a multi-story Hotel Saravana Bhavan restaurant. Of course, due to COVID-19, only the ground floor is operational now, with only take-away and some quick bites & coffee/tea being served to customers. Probably lunch with limited seating as well. As a gentle bow to the sweet memories this place holds, Swamy had a customary cup of coffee there, which surprisingly didn’t live up to its usually ‘strong’ expectation. Swamy’s father, an avid filter kaapi lover, used to walk up to this outlet, all the way from west Mambalam, during his morning brisk walk ritual, and used to reminisce meeting celebrities such as character actor Delhi Ganesh. He would’ve certainly not be pleased with the quality of kaapi served there now. Or, maybe it’s just an one-off case, when the coffee maker was distracted or disenchanted about the present state of affairs, enforced upon everyone by the wily SARS-CoV-2 virus. Oh, and HSB sells vegetables as well now, which doesn’t make any sense, in terms of business expansion or extension. Then again, nothing makes normal sense anymore in these times, isn’t it.

Unlock3 MHA guidelines are obviously not getting implemented as-is in Tamilnadu. Most certainly not in Chennai, where the situation in August is expected to remain pretty much exactly as it was in July. One can ponder and debate maintaining the status quo, especially when everybody and their aunt + uncle are getting frustrated with the prolonging lockdown. But it’s the government’s prerogative to enforce or relax lockdown restrictions. So, all we can do is to continue to play it safe and hope for some semblance of normalcy to return soon.

Stay home. Stay safe. Follow all preventive guidelines, as long as they’re necessary. Stay healthy. Stay alive.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Lockdown Musings…

18 Jun

Lockdown Musings…

As yet another lockdown – supposed to be stricter, whatever that means – is knocking on the doors of all Chennai vaasis (& Chengalpattu & Kaancheepuram & Thiruvalloor residents as well – starting tomorrow / tonight), drove out to get some stuff (there’s always stuff to be bought, in Grihastha ashrama). 🚘

The trusty Maruti Ciaz started without a whimper and was as delightful as ever to drive. No hiccups from the battery, no complaints from the engine or transmission and air conditioning worked fine as well. The wheels/tyres have lost a lot of nitrogen over the two months permanent parking period, so just got that refilled, when filling fuel. There’s a reason why Maruti remains Bharat’s #1 car manufacturer and we can only hope they continue to deliver excellent cars like the Ciaz (& Swift & Dzire & Vitara Brezza…), in the upcoming (hopefully!) electric car era too. 

Though traffic wasn’t unbearable on the main road, it’s really crowded on the interior roads of Tambaram, which is compounded by haphazard turning & parking along & on these narrow roads. Lockdown or not, this area is clearly 2-wheeler territory, which isn’t suitable for easily annoyed car drivers. Thankfully, there’s no bus traffic, so cars & mini-trucks were plying everywhere merrily, amidst the steady stream of 2-wheelers and only an occasional 3-wheeler. 

Giri Trading Agency happens to be one of Swamy’s favourite places to visit in Tambaram and they’ve done something innovative and commendable, at the entrance itself. Instead of the usual alcohol-based hand sanitiser, they’ve kept a bucket filled with water mixed with turmeric & karpooram (camphor) and the security anna was diligently pouring this mixture on the hands of all customers, to sanitise. A nice cultural touch by the shop specialising in selling (now manufacturing many items as well) products that are closely tied to our ancient culture.

All employees wore face masks and some semblance of social distancing was there since the store wasn’t crowded like supermarkets. Wanted to pick Kamba Ramayanam with vilakkam this time, but since that was a boxed set with several volumes, skipped for the time being. After starting nithya aradhana for Lord Shiva (along with Murugapperuman’s Vel & of course Devi Yantra), can’t help picking up something or other for the Lord of Lords, everytime. You’ll soon see what’s been bought this time (today happens to be PradOsham, after all). 

Mercy Electronics, which Swamy used to frequent during the Mepz days, remained closed. So were a couple of other laptop sales & service centers. That was a bummer, since Mrs’ Macbook Air’s power adapter terminated its functioning without any notice period and typical of any uber-expensive Apple products (‘Made-In-China’ – goes without saying), this one too should most probably be replaced, not repaired. And Amazon still won’t deliver any non-essentials to Chennai – even after this Unlock 1.0 was announced. So, now we’ll have to let the Macbook Air rest in peace for a few more weeks, I guess! 

The popular & always crowded Tambaram market remains closed. For the residents of southern suburbs, who aren’t that excited about dashing to Koyambedu (which too remains closed, needless to say) for their veggies, fruits & flowers, the Tambaram market is the place of choice to buy those items. Some of the vendors are selling things on the roadside. They are spread out on both sides of Tambaram, to manage the crowd of customers. Still, wherever perishables are sold in a store like setting, social distancing simply goes for a toss, as people rush in and out, haggle and buy, focusing only on their activity. The cops stationed there or roaming in that area keep warning the people about preventive measures but nobody listens to them anyway. Managed to buy some flowers in bulk though, which should hopefully last for a week. It is indeed sad that the friendly neighbourhood vendors like the Nannaari Sarbath stall owner have to shut stop during the lockdown, again, losing their daily earnings that’s essential for their livelihood.

Venkateswara Supermarket, which is considered the benchmark for superfast billing, seems to have been renamed to Vn Nila Supermarket. Not sure if this happened after a split in the founding family as next gen took over (this happened with Grand Sweets & Snacks too, but both parties continue to use the same brand name). They now stock a number of products with Vn Nila branding. This is in line with what happened at other supermarket chains like Jeyachandran & Latta, which appears to be an industry trend – stock both popular & own brands, with a noticeable price difference of course, and leave the choice to the customers. Even online retail giants Amazon & Flipkart sell a lot of own-brand products. Interesting strategy that’ll delight a lot of regular customers, who won’t mind first trying & eventually switching to a favourite store’s own-brand products. Oh, they now sell fruits & veggies as well, which is clearly a post-pandemic change.

The fact that most people on the roads wear face masks – even those who still steadfastly refuse to wear a helmet – is remarkable. But many of them seem to let the masks simply dangle while speaking, or even while walking. This defeats the whole purpose of wearing the mask, and makes it as comical as keeping a helmet on the fuel tank and plop it on the head only at signals or major turns where cops may be waiting to catch violators. The result too could be as tragic, unfortunately. And wherever one goes, those who try adhering to social distancing are the odd ones out, since the majority of the public crowd don’t give a damn. Such careless & callous attitude is scary and is possibly a significant reason for the continuing rise in viral infections.

And last but not the least, the reusable (can be washed, dried & reused for 20-25 times) cotton face mask by Ramraj is excellent in terms of quality and comfort. Except for the first few minutes, when it was fogging the spectacles inside the car, the mask remained comfortable for a few hours, at a stretch. Wouldn’t mind picking up a few more colourful ones, post lockdown, since only White coloured ones was in stock. 👌

Remember this – there’s still no cure or even specific treatment procedures for COVID-19 infection. And the number of infected people keeps surging upwards, unabated. So it’s up to us to protect ourselves from getting infected and prevent spreading of infection through us. So, 

Always wear a face mask or cover. 

Try to maintain social distancing norm, whenever you step out. 

Avoid venturing outside, unless it’s absolutely necessary for your survival. 

Don’t forget to wash your hands, with sanitiser at the stores or workplace, and with sanitisers or soap & water, after you return home. 

Stay at home; Remain healthy; Be safe.

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Unlock 1.0 – What It Really Means To You!

8 Jun

Unlock 1.0 – What it really means to you!

Unlock 1.0 – What it really means to you!

Namaskaram. 
Starting today, as part of the Unlock 1.0, you’re likely to venture out to your workplace or any public/private space for business or pleasure. You may even be allowed to have darshan of your favourite God in h/is/er abode. 

While availing these opportunities after a prolonged period of lockdown, do keep in mind that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is still active and the COVID-19 pandemic caused by it is still spreading. 略
With every stage of relaxation in the lockdown restrictions, the possibility of viral infection expands exponentially, since more people will be out there and many of them will be interacting with each other. 
So, for your own safety, and to ensure that you don’t become the medium enabling the spreading of COVID-19, please adhere to all safety precautions wholeheartedly. 

Always…
…. Wear a mask / face-covering 
… Cleanse your hands with soap & water or disinfectant, regularly, repeatedly 林
… Maintain a reasonable & practical distance – 6ft, ideally – from fellow human beings 
… Limit in-person meetings / chats and try to utilise other medium for communication ️
… Return to the relatively safe environment of your dwelling, as soon as the work outside is completed, instead of lingering & putting yourselves & others at risk of getting infected ‍♂️‍♀️
… And remember to call for immediate medical intervention, in case you or someone else you know shows any sign of infection ‍喙‍

Remember – Staying alive & remaining healthy during the time of infection is far more important for the overall wellbeing of yourself & those who depend on you, than going out for the sake of doing it, or to enjoy the mundane perks of daily survival. 臘‍♂️

Starting today, your wellbeing is actually left as your own responsibility. That’s what Unlock 1.0 really means. So be responsible and stay alive and healthy. 

Oh btw, just keep reminding yourself that there is no cure or remedy, or even formal medical treatment procedures yet for COVID-19. So you are basically going to face the unseen public enemy #1, out in the open. That’s what Unlock phase actually is. So, please behave responsibly with utmost caution.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamusings @ 50 ~ Different Folks… Very Different Strokes..!

3 May

Swamusings @ 50 ~ Different Folks… Very Different Strokes..!

There were two sets of people with whom conversation happened today. That too in the morning itself, which is practically impossible in Swamyverse. It’s as rare as Pournami (பௌர்ணமி – full moon) and Amavasya (அமாவாசை – new* / no moon) happening on the same day, which actually happened only once as far as we know, resulting in the amazing, revered verses known as Abhirami Andhaadhi (அபிராமி அந்தாதி). The first stanza of the first verse ‘உதிக்கின்ற செங்கதிர் உச்சித் திலகம்’ is a near-perfect தமிழ் version of SindhooraaruNa vigrahaam (சிந்தூராருண விக்ரஹாம்) – the beginning of Lalitha SahasraNhaamam. Ah, the genre hopping mind…

Anyway, the first call was made to Swamy and the second one was made by Swamy (no choice there – yep, Swamy does make phone calls, once in a red moon). Both conversations were with elderly people, who diligently stick to the ancient practice of celebrating / wishing others only during the janma nakshathram day (ஜென்ம நக்ஷத்திர தினம்), and strictly avoid that on the birth date, which has never been part of this ancient culture anyway (anniversary celebration is a western import, unsurprisingly tied to all kinds of commercial extortion).

In both conversations, the male elders offered the customary aaseervadham (ஆசீர்வாதம் – blessings / wishes by elders) and promptly handed over the phone to the female elders (and most probably went on / away to finish today’s newspaper/s). It’s the conversation with the two female elders that did the naamakaranam (நாமகரணம் – giving a name to someone) for this post, i.e. ‘Different Folks… Very Different Strokes..!’

The first conversation (call-in on WhatsApp, in line with the social times we survive these days) was about Swamy’s childhood (the ‘primary school’ period, to be precise), which didn’t happen in his parental home but at his maternal grandparents’ home. The reason cited still is ‘good education,’ which is debatable to this date. In reality, there was a separation of a first-born child from the parents, for a few years, when siblings were getting added to the brood. It was most probably done without any ulterior motive, unless of course such a separation was advised by a family josier, in which case the elders of the day will ensure strict adherence to such ‘expert’ advise, without question. And that child grew up to be a loner, despite being part of a fairly large family, which moulded him into an inward-dwelling quiet persona (other than the moments of angry outburst, of course), who prefers solitude at all times, for the rest of this lifetime. Since any debate about the past is utterly pointless, let’s leave that aside, conserving time, effort and energy. 

Coming back to that first conversation, it was filled with reminiscences of events from a long gone past, which apparently was still vivid in the caller’s mind. Swamy couldn’t even remember one of the incidents recalled, which is quite surprising since that event has happened during his youth, much of which he could recall well – especially that particular time period, which was truly life-altering. Before you begin to wonder, no, it had nothing to do with spirituality, other than Swamy trying to be a non-believer for a brief period of time, resulting from a very active youngster’s utter frustration of being confined to a bed, for several months (due to a sports accident, that required 2 surgeries to fix and recover from the physical injury). Overall, that conversation was an enthusiastic recall of the past, ending with one more round of blessings for a long, healthy life.

The second conversation was predominantly about the event of Swamy’s birth itself, which should’ve been like any other child birth. It was and wasn’t. Instead of a BAUHumbug routine event, that child birth apparently transformed into a memorable event due to a few reasons, some of which may sound a bit imaginative, but were true nevertheless.

  • First, he was the first ‘male’ child to be born in a new government hospital (the hospital itself was fairly new and until then all child births there were producing only girls, apparently).
  • Second, he was born on the day of Dhikvijayam (royal procession on all directions – forgive the transliteration, since there aren’t any exact equivalent in english for many such sanskrit words) of the reigning Goddess/Empress of the town Devi Meenakshi (this is one of the key events of the famous annual festival known as Chithirai Thiruvizha – சித்திரை திருவிழா).
  • And third, the Apollo-13 spacecraft landed safely back on earth on that day on the other side of the world, despite major technical difficulties, which ended up giving this first-born male child of a tamil family an english nickname ‘Apolloer,’ in small town Madurai. Considering there was no social media or TV then – it was 50 years ago, after all – and the only news sources were the radio and newspapers, visualising that amusing/amazing situation is left to your vivid imagination.

The conversation which went on for some time turned out to be more about the mother than the child.. heh.. heh.. Despite Swamy’s poking, not much was recalled about that (supposedly) wonder kid, but quite a bit was spoken about the mother of that child and her childbearing experiences.

Thus started the actual anniversary dhinam of a child who was born in the popular temple town of Madurai on this exact day (per the janma nakshathram, of course), five decades ago. Today happens to be not only the janma nakshathram day, but also the Dhikvijayam of Madurai MeenAkshi Amman. Despite the amazing similarities of the two days, 50 years apart, there is also a significant difference, which is quite sad, considering it involves not just Swamy or his extended family, but the populace of the entire town and nearby towns and villages as well.

The famous annual (summer) festival of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is being celebrated this year in a very subdued manner within the temple itself, due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Both Chennai, where Swamy resides and Madurai, where he was born and brought up, are unfortunately marked as ‘Red Zone’s. Typically, there’ll be several thousands of ardent devotees thronging the vast – and ancient, needless to say – temple, during each day of the nearly 2-week long festival, despite the blazing summer sun. On the special days such as Thirukkalyaanam (திருக்கல்யாணம்), DhikVijayam (திக்விஜயம்), KaLLazhagar EdhirsEvai (கள்ளழகர் எதிர்சேவை), the crowd of devotees will easily swell to lakhs. Till date, Meenakshi Amman isn’t just a deity inside  the temple for the emotionally-charged Madurai folks. She is considered very much their own Amma, i.e. mother.

Swamyji50_C1

Of course, as far as Swamy is considered, today is just another day – golden anniversary or otherwise. He’s thankful for waking up as usual, still breathing fine. The nondescript daily events list is getting ticked of one by one, as any other day in the recent past. His sahadharmini (சஹதர்மிணி) was kind enough to prepare sweet pongal (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்) to mark the occasion, which is the only noteworthy change from the routine post-retirement living. Usually, some kind of sweet prasaadham (பிரசாதம் – offering to the divine) is prepared only for festivals celebrated in SwamyHome. Today is anyway the Jagathjanani (ஜகத்ஜனனி – universal Mother) RaajaMaathangi’s DhikVijayam festival day. So, in a household with Devi’s presence (in the form of Devi Linga Bhairavi Yantra), it’s appropriate to offer sweet prasaadham on this day.

Those two conversations of the day went on to highlight the saying ‘Different Folks, Different Strokes.‘ Very different strokes, i.e. perspectives, indeed. Neither is good or bad, obviously. They are who they are and what they remember and recall is what they have experienced and thereby know. What each elder expressed was certainly true, as it is based on their own direct experience. But it’s the perspective offered that makes them vastly different from each other.

One looked at it from the perspective of bringing up an interesting child, that wasn’t her own. She was only an indirect stakeholder in shaping up that child’s life trajectory, despite actually bringing up that child for a certain period of time – a very crucial time in that child’s existence. So the recall of her experiences reflected that child’s skills, attributes, characteristics. In a way, it was a retelling of that child’s growing up days, as it was.

The other elder’s experience was of her own, rather than the child. This could be simply due to her own very first childbearing experience (she ended up doing it quite a few times, afterwards), which must have been overwhelming for a young woman from a traditional upbringing with limited external exposure of the world. For the child, who himself is nearly as experienced as those elders now, as a retiree at 50 (the planned retirement itself happened 5 years ago), the perspectives were quite a revelation – despite not being able to recall an event or two, of his own life, covered in those conversations!

Oh, before concluding this one, it’s worth recalling (pun, absolutely intended 😉 another post by Swamy on the occasion of the calendar birthday/date, couple of weeks ago. That post, ‘ஐம்பதிலும் ஞானம் வரும்!‘ is much more elaborate and will offer quite a few insights for readers who contemplate whatever they read. Here’s a link…

ஐம்பதிலும் ஞானம் வரும் ~ ஸ்வாமியின் உயிர்மெய் பதிவு  

As a species endowed with relatively higher intelligence (not necessarily better though) in this vast creation, our perspective of things, events and people is a result of our ability to shape and utilise that intelligence. There’s no doubt the environment in which we were born and brought up – including the people around and close to us at the time of growing up – plays a significant role in shaping our personality and perspectives.

But one’s perspective can eventually change – wider, broader, deeper – based on one’s exposure to the external world, commonly known as society. Such change in perspective is an outcome of both personal and professional experiences. But the caveat for such a change is one’s in/ability to assimilate, contemplate and comprehend life happening all around, objectively, without colouring them with subjective bias of any kind. In essence, how much a being changes or doesn’t is entirely in the hands of that being.

At 50, Swamy’s perspective of Life (the way humans know and live it) has changed quite significantly. Realising mere survival is just a BAUHumbug routine, he has consciously bid adieu to the corporate world, where he performed his survival act in a reasonably successful way for nearly two-and-a-half decades, five years ago and started treading a different path, to realise the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) and attain Mukti (the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle spiral).

This ongoing journey has significantly altered Swamy’s perception of Life (the way it is, i.e. Reality) as well, though there is still a long way to go, inward of course. So for the seeker that Swamy is nowadays, pretty much full-time, this day too shall come to pass, just like any other day in the past, including the day in the long gone past when he came (back!) into the world of survival, one more time, as the jyEshta kumaaran (ஜேஷ்ட குமாரன் – first-born male child) of a god+government fearing humble middle-class family, in the temple town of Madurai, on the auspicious day of DhikVijayam of Meenakshi Amman (மதுரை மீனாட்சி அம்மன் திக்விஜயம்).

The just-born ‘apolloer’ has certainly travelled a looooooooooong way – literally and experientially – from that day and place. And life goes on, without being bothered about whether he has turned 5 or 14 or 23 or 50, on this particular day!

2016-02-07-19-45-40Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 

 

 

 

 

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

30 Mar

Lockdown Learning #1 – On Gautama the Buddha and his Path!

~a SwamyView insight

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lockdown Learning is a new series of articles, through which #SwamyView on all things about ‘Life, the way it is’ is shared as insights, based on Questions raised by fellow humans, either seeking to comprehend something or simply expand their knowing.
This is the first article of the series.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Questioner: Why was Buddha not convinced with any of the existing religions at that time? He did not choose to find enlightenment through Hinduism or even Jainism. He went ahead and created his own path… What could have made him feel that other religions don’t offer? I tend to agree that he did not start his own cult for fame or personal benefits.

First of all, let’s sweep aside all the misconceptions about Gautama the Buddha (he isn’t the only Buddha btw, every Realised Master that has ever been is a Buddha). We’ll refer to the great Master as GB from now on, to conserve some screen space.

Gautama_the_Buddha1sGB didn’t start a new organised religion. And no, it wasn’t a cult either. In fact, none of the Realised Masters to whom an organised religion’s founding is attributed to, ever actually intended to seed / start a new religion. That mostly happened after their time.

Vardhamana Mahavira (also a prince and grihastha with a child, his father’s name is ‘Siddhartha’ – not known to be related to GB though) didn’t found Jainism – he is just one of the Thirthankaras (not too different from Guru or messiah or prophet) in that religion, albeit one who is revered as God incarnation by the jains.

Jesus Christ didn’t found Christianity. And why would a ‘son of God’ propagate his own path, instead of his father’s, anyway? Jesus was in fact a jew, which means his religion (by birth and practice) was Judaism. And he was persecuted and executed by the Romans, who had their own belief system, with many a God. Incidentally, many jews don’t consider Jesus – referred to as Yeshu – as a messiah, let alone son of God, in Judaism. The organised religion attributed to him was founded by his disciples / followers, who believed his teaching, and the path based on those teachings, could offer salvation to the people.

Mahavira1Whereas, later day Gurus like Arutprakasa Ramalinga Vallalar, Ayya Vaikundar and Meivazhichalai Andavar actually ended up founding their own organised belief system akin to existing religions – Samarasa Sanmarga Sangam, Ayya Vazhi and Meivazhichalai, respectively. But even their systems have their roots firmly entrenched in Sanatana Dharma, which has been the ‘way of life‘ for several millennia, in this ancient culture. Vallalar’s magnum opus Thiruvarutpa actually has many verses in praise of Lord Shiva. He is known to have worshipped and sung the Lord’s praise in Kandhakottam, a popular Murugan temple in Chennai. Post his realisation, Vallalar simplified God as ‘jyoti’ (light), perhaps with the objective of eliminating the confusion caused by the vivid imagination of various God forms by devotees.  

TeachingofBuddhaGB chose the path of sanyasa, i.e. seeking the Truth through renunciation – of all materialistic attachments and worldly connections. It’s very much a path in the ancient culture of Sanatana Dharma, even now. Having been around two-and-a-half millennia ago, he must’ve certainly tried the methods and Sadhana (spiritual practices) of that time, which must’ve included severe penance, aka தவம். But at some point in time, during his journey along the spiritual path, he realised – to his utter dismay, most likely – that none of the known processes were offering the answer to what he was looking for (we’ll get to that in a few moments).

Shri Bhagavat Ayya, a contemporary living Master (in Tamilnadu), says that contrary to popular belief, Gautama the Buddha didn’t attain enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi tree, but actually self-realisation happened to him when he sat under the tree in an almost despondent state, after realising that none of the sadhana he tried yielded the result he desired. This is not that different from the enlightenment experience shared by many other Gurus. Self-realisation, aka enlightenment, happens by its own volition, to/within a sadhaka. All sadhana is just preparing the sadhaka for that happening. 

GB did indeed show a different path to his followers, based on his experience of Reality. In fact, that’s exactly what any other Realised Master (Guru) too has done. Every single one of them offered a path that’s a variant of the original, where the tailoring or refinement is based on his/her own experience of realisation.

Sadhguru1For example, the core sadhana offered by Swamy’s Master Sadhguru is the Shambhavi Maha Mudra. It’s said to have originated from Adiyogi Shiva himself. Yet, Sadhguru’s version is tailored to eliminate the step(s) that will rekindle the sadhaka’s memories of past lifetimes, because most humans of this era simply aren’t ready to or capable of handling the stark facts about their past births. Sadhguru also emphasises the importance of knowing / realising the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al, or ‘Life, the way it is’ as he terms it) through intimate direct experience and not based on how the scriptures or preachers describe it, since that’s the way he himself attained self-realisation, in this lifetime.

Incidentally, GB’s teachings such as ahimsa, renunciation, non-attachment, etc. are all very much part of Sanatana Dharma as well, one way or another. For example, the ‘yama and niyama‘ of Ashtanga Yoga (they are the first two stages of the eight-stage yogic path to realisation) elucidated by Patanjali Maharishi’s Yoga Sutras are nothing but a list of dos and don’ts, in terms of virtues essential for a seeker. Similarities such as these can be found in Mahavira’s jainism teachings as well.

GB didn’t include any kind of Gods in his teaching, possibly due to two reasons. And that’s purely speculation, of course. First, he didn’t find any God helping him attain enlightenment. That probably sounds pretty trivial, but it’s also a fact that none of the trinity, nor Devi, actually appeared to offer him self-realisation or salvation. But that isn’t surprising at all, since the manifest forms, i.e. Saghuna Brahmam of creator is typically left to the seeker’s choice. There are paths to realisation, using any form of God as the Paramatma, i.e. the supreme soul, with which the jeevatma (the individual being) aspires to attain union. So, a Devi upasaka chooses the path of Devi Shakti (the path of Tantra); a Subrahmanya upasaka chooses the path of the six-faced Lord Shanmukha (the choice of Siddhars such as Boghar and Pamban Kumaragurudasa Swamigal); a Vishnu upasaka chooses the path of the preserver among the Trinity (such as the path of Bakthi, chosen by the Azhvars); and the sadhaka who considers Adiyogi Shiva as the supreme soul chooses Shaiva Sidhanta or Yoga abhyasa (not for nothing is Lord Shiva known as both Adiyogi and Adi Guru – he predates all Realised Masters in this ancient culture). Alternatively, one can choose the formless ‘unmanifest’ form, i.e. the Nirghuna Brahmam as well, if one has got the guts and iron will to choose the abstract path to realisation. Sidhartha Gautama probably chose the formless or abstract form for his meditation is my guess.

Jiddu-KrishnamurtiSecond, he realised that despite believing in various forms of Gods and performing rituals to all of them diligently, people were still suffering. So he must have decided – most likely after his enlightenment – that it’s quite possible for anyone to be liberated from suffering (not just in this lifetime, but also permanently from the birth-death cycle), without actually having to believe in a(ny) form of God. If so, that would be a truly revolutionary approach to mukti, even during his time, preached by someone who himself is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Mahavishnu. That’s like God himself telling devotees that they don’t have to believe in him, yet they can attain the ultimate state possible for human beings! In fact, a contemporary world teacher such as J Krishnamurti too has eliminated the need for a(ny) God (or Guru, for that matter), in the pursuit of realisation of the Truth. JK neither identifies himself with any religion nor likes being called a Guru, despite the fact that he most certainly is revered by millions as a Realised Master, who isn’t that different from Gautama the Buddha himself!

Also, it may be surprising to know that there are quite a few Gods, or devatas in Buddhism, especially in the Tantric variants. Tara, for example is an important Goddess in Tantric Buddhist versions such as Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra in Sanatana Dharma has always been closely associated with Shakti, i.e. the Mother Goddess, who is considered the foundation or source of creation, according to Devi Bhagavatam and Devi Mahatmiyam. It’s quite understandable as Mother remains the sole source of creation, even in this digital era (even in a family of same-sex couple of two males, none of them can actually conceive, despite one of them being called ‘wife’). Moreover, depiction of Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara, the patron God or deity of Tibetan Buddhism with a thousand arms, quite possibly indicating the Sahasrara Chakra, (the opening, or blossoming rather – since it’s also referred to as the lotus with a 1000 petals – of which is an indication of self-realisation), also includes Sakhyamuni Buddha himself prominently. Oh btw, Buddhism hasn’t excluded karma either, and the reincarnation of beings due to that, unlike a few monotheistic religions. That idea has its roots in Sanatana Dharma goes without saying.

Buddhist_Gods

GB is once said to have gone into a deep state of meditation – most likely Samadhi – and narrated who he is, by recalling all his past lifetimes, right from the single cell organism from which possibly all life forms in creation originated. This is in perfect alignment with the teachings of Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta, which elucidate on the source of creation as a primordial energy, i.e. Nirghuna Brahmam, one without form or attributes, or the unmanifest stillness (aka Shiva – ‘that which is not’), which eventually manifested itself into all of creation, i.e. the manifest universe and the beings inhabiting its worlds. In his realised state, GB simply perceived himself as that source of creation itself, from the very beginning of creation, and all its manifestations, till himself. This is exactly what the mahavakyas from Upanishads, viz., ‘Aham Brahmasmi‘, ‘Ayam Atman Brahman‘, ‘Ta Twam Asi‘ and ‘Pragnanam Brahma‘ state. In essence, he was expounding none other than the fundamental idea of Advaita, i.e. non-duality, which itself doesn’t require any reference to a particular form of God or deity.

Dhuni_Quote_1

So, there’s enough evidence to say convincingly that Gautama the Buddha’s findings and teachings weren’t so groundbreaking that they superceded every other religion or path that existed before. On the contrary, it’s quite easy to establish Buddhism as just another branch of the tree of Spirituality, that had been in existence long before GB came around. And that’s perhaps the primary reason why the religion whose founding is attributed to him, did not spread far and wide within Bharatavarsha itself, simply because most bharatvasis of that time must’ve been perplexed as to ‘what’s so new!‘ While he is certainly revered as a great Guru (Realised Master) in this culture, and even portrayed as one of Mahavishnu’s dasavatars (which directly links him to Sanatana Dharma), the fact remains that he is just one of the many Realised Masters who have treaded this land and guided thousands during and after their lifetime, to attain self-realisation and mukti (the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle spiral). He just happens to be one of the popular Gurus.

Now to that part of the question regarding why he offered a different path to his followers. The primary reason for that is the fundamental problem for which he set out to find an answer. “Why is there so much suffering in this world?“, upon witnessing suffering in the forms of old age, illness, death, etc., for the first time in his life. Safely assuming that he belonged to some variant of Sanatana Dharma, before his quest to find that answer, he must’ve been familiar with the various religious practices (vedic chanting, homams or havan, elaborate rituals for various deities, learning & contemplation using scriptures, etc.). Though legend has it that his father carefully shielded him from knowing about ‘normal’ life (of human beings) and any form of scriptural learning (since it was predicted by scholars that he will become a renunciate and great teacher, at the time of his birth itself), GB was a prince after all and must’ve been part of, or at the least witnessed, many such rituals sponsored by his father. Even the epics Ramayana & Mahabharata must’ve existed in some form during his time, so he must’ve certainly been aware that even incarnations of Gods go through suffering in human form.

So when he eventually set out to know the Truth, his quest was probably not to ‘liberate’ humanity from the karmic cycle (which he may or may not have been aware of, at the beginning of his quest to realise the Truth), but to find a way to alleviate their suffering instead. Finally, post self-realisation, he concluded and proclaimed that “Attachment is the root cause of all suffering.” So his teaching was naturally tuned to eliminate attachment of all kinds, so that suffering too can be eliminated eventually. This is also why Buddhism is perceived as the path for renunciates, i.e. monks who have taken to sanyasa, choosing to renounce all worldly attachments, just as GB himself did. And it certainly seems to have worked, especially during his time (he did travel and preach his path for many decades post attaining enlightenment), when he had thousands of monks as disciples, including his own child Rahula. Incidentally Mahavira also did the same thing (walking out of a life of luxury and family of wife and child), though his path is inclusive of both sanyasa and grihasta ways of life.

BhagavadGita2a

Intriguingly, the removal of attachment that is considered essential to alleviate suffering in humans, isn’t new either. If one goes back a few millennia before GB’s lifetime, to the time of the great Yogi Krishna Paramatma (an avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, no less – the eighth one, preceding Gautama the Buddha), one of the most popular shlokhas of his teachings (enshrined in the eponymous Bhagavad Gita – considered the holiest of Sanatana Dharmic scriptures by many, even now) elaborates on how one must perform ‘actions’ without any attachment to either the actor or the outcome. It’s none other than the verse

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,

Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur Ma Te Sango Stv Akarmani.” 

Lord Krishna basically told Arjuna to get on with waging the war (of Mahabharata, at Kurukshetra), without being overtly concerned about the outcome. He also emphasised that not participating in the war was certainly not an option. Arjuna was hesitant to do so, since those who he had to face, and beat – most probably kill – were actually family. His decision making was obviously clouded by emotions and his subjective intellect was on overdrive, projecting a dreary future scenario, based on the vast repository of past information stored in the mind. In other words, he was ‘suffering’ due to the ‘intellectual thinking’ arising out of his mind, based on the past data, projecting a future scenario, preventing necessary action in the present. Krishna Paramatma’s way out for Arjuna’s ‘suffering‘ conundrum was to consciously ‘not getting attached to the doership and the outcome of the action.’ In essence, he told Arjuna to get rid of his attachment in order to alleviate his suffering. GB seems to have merely repackaged that teaching a bit, to suit the needs of people of his time.

In a letter to one of his disciples, Swami Vivekananda quotes the Bhagavad Gita verse and says,

‘Despair not; remember the Lord says in the Gita, “To work you have the right, but not to the result.‘ ‘To work‘ essentially means to perform an action. Actions can be performed effectively only if the actioner takes the responsibility to perform them. Both responsibility and performance are shaken when the actioner worries more about the outcome than the action. The cause for this is attachment. Objectivity requires detachment. And objectivity is essential for staying focused on the action, until completion. To put it differently, performing an action is akin to being in a state of meditation. Meditation, unsurprisingly, is one of the primary tenets of GB’s teaching as well.

1000349_10202443379629792_1133605306_n.jpgDuring his lifetime, GB’s followers seem to have comprised predominantly of monks (of both predominant genders), who have renounced material life and chose the path of sanyasa. This is known as the Sanga, one of the primary tenets of GB’s 3-fold teachings (the other two are Buddha and Dhamma). He is said to have had thousands of disciple monks around him, many of whom are said to have attained enlightenment as well.

Sanyasa isn’t an easy path to choose, yet it is very much present as a choice in Sanatana Dharma as well. Post the Brahmacharya stage, one can choose to be a Grihastha (life of householder) or Sanyasa (life of renunciate). Alternatively, even those who choose to be a Grihastha, can later choose Sanyasa, after completing their Grihastha duties and going through Vanaprastha. Therein also lies the clue to why GB’s path didn’t find many grihastha followers in Bharatavarsha. Interestingly, there have been many Gurus in this ancient culture who remained Grihasthas, even after their enlightenment, and continued to teach and guide seekers.

Lockdown_Migrants1Today, during the nationwide lockdown enforced to protect the masses from getting infected by the deadly virus pandemic known as COVID-19, we come across many a news article or visual crying out loud about thousands of migrant workers walking or transported back to their hometown, highlighting their misery and suffering all along. It’s quite obvious that they endure a lot of suffering during their existence – not just during pandemics or natural calamities. Yet, a significant portion of such poor population hold dearly on to their ancient belief system, passed on through many generations, i.e. Sanatana Dharma in one form or another, and not willingly shift en masse’ to a different faith such as Buddhism (for example), which was founded from the quest of a great Master who set out to find the cause of such suffering and alleviate it. It’s a fact that they do find solace in their favourite form of God and trust their faith to survive their existence filled with one form of suffering after another. One need to only witness the millions (literally!) of padayatris who walk hundreds of kilometres, year after year, to Rishikesh and Gangotri, chanting ‘Har Har Mahadev‘ fervently, to comprehend the sheer power of their belief.

Have GB’s teachings eradicated suffering from the world? Obviously not.

Were there not such teachings aimed at alleviating the suffering of people, either before or after the Buddha’s existence? Of course there were many – by many a Realised Master, not too different from GB himself (though many may not be that well known – limited to a certain region or even a particular place).

The reason why so many belief systems and paths of seeking coexist only in this nation is that all of them lead the seeker (or believer) to the realisation of the same / singular Truth (about the Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation (from the suffering of repetitive birth-death survival spiral). Gautama the Buddha’s path and preaching were based on his own quest (to find a way to eradicate suffering) and ways of attainment (renunciation, meditation, etc). So are all the paths that were and still are in existence. Each Master teaches differently, yet they all guide their followers – seekers and believers alike – towards the same end state, that of realisation and liberation. That hasn’t changed for several millennia that have come and gone, and isn’t expected to change for several more to come. Teachers come and go, but their teachings continue to resonate with newer generations of seekers and followers. That’s why Gautama the Buddha is as relevant today as he was two-and-a-half millennia ago. Yet, the suffering that he tried to alleviate still pervades all sections of humanity even today, for which he (or any other Master, for that matter) can’t be held responsible.

Before we conclude this learning, two incidents in GB’s life are worth recalling, in order to truly comprehend this long-form response.

Buddha_and_Widow_taleThe first is a famous, oft-quoted, tale of a widow who requested GB to bring her only child back to life. Buddha, the ever-compassionate yet pragmatic realist, told her it can be done, adding an ‘if’ clause. He told her “If you can fetch a handful of grain (till or something similar) from at least one family in this village/town, which hadn’t seen any death whatsoever, and bring it to me, your child shall be brought back to life.” That poor grief-stricken woman went around, from door to door, seeking a handful of grain, but was left empty handed by the end of her seeking. For, there was not a single household in that place (or anywhere else, for that matter) that hasn’t seen death of a beloved member of the family. Everybody dies. And everyone connected to them grieves. That’s the harsh reality of existence. The woman realised that and became a disciple – monk, of course – of GB himself. This tale highlights one noteworthy aspect of the great teacher – his teaching was direct, bereft of any hard-to-comprehend fantastic expositions of Truth (typical of scriptures, puranas and ithihasas), and based on direct perception / experience of reality. That’s the primary reason it was so effective.

Buddha_first_sermonThe second, less known tale, has been shared by Sri M, a contemporary living Master, of the Nath yogi order (founder of ‘The Sathsang Foundation’). In his autobiography (two volumes titled ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master’ & ‘The Journey Continues’ – highly recommended, even for non-seekers), while recalling his many past lifetimes, Sri M narrates his experience of being in the presence of Gautama the Buddha. This happens during GB’s now-famous first sermon at Saranath, when the world was about to hear from the new Realised Master, for the very first time. Sri M in that lifetime belonged to a lower caste and GB passes through his place. Sri M offers him water, which GB accepts and drinks. Then he invites Sri M to be part of his sermon. Sri M, being a lower caste person, sits away from the crowd of curious people who assembled for the sermon, and listens to the Master. The crowd for the epic first sermon of the Buddha was less than twenty people or so, apparently. And Sri M says, in all his lifetimes (which includes him being part of the epic Mahabharata battle at Kurukshetra, witnessing the great Yogi Lord Krishna himself in action, as a woman then) he has never seen a being that was as compassion personified as Gautama the Buddha, the great Master who taught his path to less than two dozen people in his first sermon. Swamy had tears rolling down his eyes, involuntarily of course, while reading this passage in that book. But GB certainly fared better than Adiyogi, who as Adi Guru Dakshinamurthy, had just 7 sages to transmit his teachings, which is the firm foundation of all spiritual seeking, till date. Yet, look at how much Adiyogi is revered, worshipped and fervently followed even now. Size doesn’t matter, after all, certainly not in the spiritual realm!

So, in conclusion (at last..;), there’s no question that Gautama the Buddha is one of the greatest Gurus (Realised Masters) of this ancient culture. The fact that his teachings still prevail is proof enough for their effectiveness. But there’s no denying the fact that his teaching, and thereby the path which is based on his teachings, have their roots in Sanatana Dharma. Just as there are many tributaries to the mighty Ganga Maa, there have always been many spiritual paths / organised belief systems that branched away from Sanatana Dharma. The beauty of this culture is its acceptance of all such tributaries as well, alongside the eternal mother river. That’s why teachers such as Gautama the Buddha and Mahavira were neither persecuted nor prosecuted here, but accepted and revered as a Gurus, and had scores of disciples who chose to follow their paths and put their teachings to practice. That in essence is the greatest aspect of our culture, highlighted in the saying ‘unity in diversity!

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Is Knowledge of Everything Necessary!

12 Feb

Is Knowledge of Everything Necessary!

~QuorAnswers by Swamy

For any action, there has to be a purpose. Without purpose, thoughts and actions are pointless. So, what’s the purpose of knowing everything…

Is it to prove a point to someone (which isn’t going to be of any value to one’s quality of living) or to comprehend the limitation of the human being (ability, capacity, time, energy, etc) to know only a limited number of things?

QAT_Swamy1The lifetime available to a human being is limited (by breath, not time). The cosmos is so boundless and unimaginably vast that it’s practically impossible for a person to know everything about existence. Even if one limits oneself to knowing about this tiny planet (which is actually a speck of dust on the cosmic scale), a lifetime isn’t sufficient – even in the digital age where information is practically just a “Hello Alexa” or “OK Google” away.

 

Life the way humans know and live it is primarily just survival. However much one tries to know about it, the predictable routine of a BAUHumbug existence on the survival plane isn’t going to change. Sadly, most humans are stuck in this rut, for many a lifetime.

Life, the way it is,” or Reality is far more magnificent, incredibly complex and immensely enchanting to know about. The path to know the Truth (about creator, creation, existence, et al) is known as spirituality. It is ancient, not bound to any belief system (such as Religion) and open to all. In this digital age, there’s no dearth of information about all things spiritual, though most of them are just information and not wisdom (gained through first hand experience). Treading that path to know the Truth, as an intimate internal experience (known as self-realisation or enlightenment) is pretty much the only thing worth knowing. And that’s exactly why anyone is gifted with the opportunity to be human!

May Grace be with you to know the Truth – in this lifetime itself!

Link to this QuorAnswer by Swamy in Quora.

~Swamy

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer
உயிர்மெய்

ஸ்வாமியின் தமிழ் பதிவுகள்

G.Sairamesh's Blog

Business of helping people Prosper & Grow

Coach4excellence's Blog

Committed to the business of helping people to effectiveness & growth!

Joshi Daniel Photography

Images of People Photoblog

E-Learning Provocateur

A blog by Ryan Tracey

Donald H Taylor

This is an archive blog. Please visit donaldhtaylor.co.uk

Leadership Freak

Empowering Leaders 300 Words at a Time

Been there, Seen that

Unraveling Life’s mysteries, one blog post at a time!